BorrowBox

The one development I could never have anticipated was that printed fiction books would suddenly become dramatically less important to me than they were. Just the other day I worked out that l must have been a member of various libraries for at least 53 years ever since being taken by my mum to the children’s library in the Durban City Hall.

In the intervening years I have probably devoured at least three printed books a week and sometimes more until one day when, having been in Brisbane for some years, I noted that my sister and niece were listening to audio books on their tablets and mobile phones and deriving a lot of enjoyment from them. I had listened to audio books on occasion but had given it up because the process simply wasn’t that convenient and because I have issues with buying audio books at the same price as the printed versions.

I was all ears once it was explained that the family had downloaded an app called BorrowBox (available for Apple iOS and Android) which allowed them to sign on as members of the Brisbane Library Service, browse athrough an extensive list of titles and download the ones they wanted free of charge, if available, or reserve them if they had already been borrowed. Once a book has been borrowed, it can be downloaded onto one or more of your devices and go with you anywhere.

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HDR master

One of the main limitations of all cameras has been that they cannot capture the same number of brightness levels in a scene that the human eye can. This has led to the situation where the photographer has to make up his or her mind which parts of the scene they want to capture. The usual choice was to capture highlights correctly and let the shadows go totally black.

Now, in digital photography, we have a technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range) which lets you capture more brightness levels than ever before, by blending a number of different exposures together. One of the early masters of this technique is Trey Ratcliffe who established the site Stuck in Customs, where he combines his love of travel photography with HDR.

 

The site is full of tips and techniques and there is a very thorough free tutorial on HDR which you can view. He has also just published a book, A World In HDR, on more advanced techniques and I’m certainly going to put it on my Christmas wish list.

Many HDR pictures end up looking pretty gaudy and false-looking and those are not to my taste at all. Trey’s pictures are a different in that, although some have a hyper-real look to them, I never get the feeling that he has overdone them. Inspirational stuff indeed!

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Worldwide Photowalk

In one of the very early posts on this blog, I confided that I had been lucky enough to win the Durban section of Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2009. With over 900 winners and the same number of walk organisers, there were a lot of prizes to post out and problems were bound to occur. I had begun to think that my prize was never going to arrive but, shortly after Christmas, a courier rolled up to the door with a copy of Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book Volume 3.

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The Hot Shoe Diaries

I may have mentioned that one of the most exciting developments in my photography in recent times was the discovery of off-camera flash. Or, if I wanted to be strictly accurate, my recent rediscovery of off-camera flash..

I was browsing through the B&H Photo site the other day when I noticed Canon accessories which allow you to connect off-camera flashes to your Canon film cameras. It reminded me that I once had a set of those cords, hot shoes and connector boxes, and which gave superb results. I was shooting my niece who was a toddler at the time and, if I tell you that she now has her driving license and is at university, it’ll give you an idea of just how long ago that was.

cheeky

For one reason or another, perhaps it was too limiting to work tethered with short bits of wire, I stopped doing the off-camera thing; and what a great pity that was.

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Photo Icons

Quite a few posts ago, I mentioned that I had been out shopping for photography books with some money I got for my birthday. I might well have ended up with more how-to books, if my eye hadn’t been caught by the two-volume Photo Icons set.

They are small (14×19.5cm) neat hardback books  by Hans-Michael Koetzle, and published by Taschen. Subtitled, The Story Behind the Pictures, the two attractive little volumes were begging me to take them down off the shelf, and have a look.

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